This is the most delicious baked pasta dish and takes a fraction of the effort required to make lasagne. I have been sceptical about one-pot pasta dishes – it feels odd to put dry pasta in a casserole – but this works (I continue to be amazed that it all comes together). It’s a big, cheerful, ‘friends-and-family-round-the-table’ meal.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes
1 tbsp olive oil
650g spicy sausages, skin removed, cut into pieces a little smaller than a walnut
1 onion, chopped
250g prepared butternut squash flesh (frozen or fresh, defrosted if frozen), in about 2.5cm pieces
2 garlic cloves, grated to a purée
¼-½ tsp chilli flakes
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
chopped leaves from 1 sprig of rosemary
2 x 400g tins crushed tomatoes (Mutti Polpa if possible)
pinch of sugar
285g pasta shapes such as penne or ziti
85g Gruyère, grated
200g mozzarella, torn
35g grated Parmesan
500ml whole-fat milk
40g white breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat the oven to 190C/ 180C fan/gas mark 5.
Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole and add the sausage. Cook over a medium-high heat, getting a good colour all over. You don’t have to cook the sausage through. Lift the pieces out and set aside in a bowl.
Add the onion and squash to the pan and cook until pale gold and softening. Add the garlic, spices, rosemary and tomatoes. Season and add a little sugar.
Put the sausages back in the casserole and add the pasta. Season and turn everything over. Add the Gruyère, mozzarella and 25g of the Parmesan. Pour in the milk and stir everything through.
Cover with a double layer of foil, folding it over the sides and scrunching it. Put a lid on and cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs, parsley and the rest of the Parmesan on top. Return to the oven, without the lid and foil, and cook for another 10 minutes. It should be thick and creamy.
A green salad or some bitter leaves would be good on the side.